In NC, It’s Not Rape If Person Revokes Consent During Sex


A Fayetteville woman has just learned that under North Carolina law a person can’t be charged with rape even if the other person revokes consent during sex thanks to a decades-old law.

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In a Fayetteville Observer article published this week, 19-year-old Aaliyah Palmer says she was the victim of a sex crime in January. A man pulled her into the bathroom for sex, for which she was willing. When the sex turned violent, she told the man to stop. He didn’t listen.

Local ABC 8News shares that back in 1979, the North Carolina Supreme Court ruled a person can’t be charged with rape if the partner initially consented to sex, but revoke consent after sexual intercourse begins. In State Vs. Way, the court determined ‘if the actual penetration is accomplished with the woman’s consent, the accused is not guilty of rape, although he may be guilty of another crime because of his subsequent actions.’

“It’s really stupid,” Palmer said of the law. “If I tell you no and you kept going, that’s rape.”

It’s not just stupid – it’s totally backward.

Sonya Desai, client services coordinator with the Guilford County Family Justice Center says it best: “As far as no means no, it is an absolute. We believe it to be an absolute, so when someone says no to sex that means no.”

While you might be nodding your head at this simple concept, there are people that just can’t wrap their heads around such a concept. How people can’t wrap their heads around this is beyond me.

To help, a bill in the North Carolina Senate’s Rules Committee would change that old, ridiculous law. Under Senate Bill 553, sponsored by Sen. Jeff Jackson (D-Mecklenburg), anyone who failed to stop intercourse when a woman who had originally consented changed her mind, would be charged. This would give power back to women to say no at whatever point she is at and justice to prevail when the savage doesn’t listen.

At the moment, however, this proposed bill is currently stalled. The bill is stopped in the committee and Jackson added it will likely be dead for the rest of the legislative session. I wonder why that is. Congressmen probably don’t find this bill important and/or probably don’t care to change a law for the greater good.

Despite this standstill, Jackson wants the law changed.

Jackson says several women have consulted with him about having experiences similar to Palmer’s.

“Legislators are hearing more and more about women who have been raped and are being denied justice because of this crazy loophole,” Jackson said. “North Carolina is the only state in U.S. where no doesn’t mean no.”

Hopefully, we will make progress. It’s just a shame that it’s going to be a very slow process to get there.


Featured image via Carol M. Highsmith/Buyenlarge/Getty Images

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